The first Tom Collins recipe hails from the 1870s. The concoction was a basic blend of simple syrup, gin, lemon, and soda water, and thankfully, the cocktail hasn’t gotten wildly more complicated since then: at its heart, the Tom Collins is an alcoholic fizzy lemonade.
We like it literary over here at The Daily Meal, so you may be inclined to recall that in J.D. Salinger’s "Raise High the Roof Beams, Carpenters," Buddy Glass (the eldest brother after Seymour) mixes up some of the boozy treat after his brother has left his bride at the altar. "I thought I'd make some Tom Collinses, if there are any lemons or limes. Will that be all right?" In this scene, Buddy is an inspiration to all of us: you can always choose to be a gentleman about things.
In honor of Buddy Glass, our Tom Collins is a bit out of the ordinary: the classic Collins is made with lemons alone, but ours combines the flavor with limes for a one-two citrus punch. Of course, if you’re out of either, the drink will be delicious regardless. Collinses are a notoriously easygoing bunch: the drink Tom Collins has been made with seltzer or mineral water, lemons or limes, gin or vodka or whiskey (gin is the default; you’d call these variations a “vodka Tom Collins” and a “John Collins” respectively), and once, memorably — in the trenches during World War I — with Aqua Velva, the famous aftershave. War really is hell, but any Collins in a storm, we suppose.
Jess Novak is the Drink Editor of The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @jesstothenovak